Madden’s football legacy was second to none


On Tuesday, it was revealed that former broadcaster John Madden passed away at the age of 85.
His final broadcast with longtime partner Pat Summerall was February 2002 on FOX when the Patriots upset the heavily favored Rams in New Orleans.
I watched that game in a college dorm room in Wisconsin with a couple of friends. The end result was shocking, but should it have been? I mean, it was the start of the Patriots’ dynasty, which led to six world championships. Pretty good for a team that almost wound up moving to St. Louis in the early 1990s.
When the came was over, Madden and Summerall attempted to recap the action.
“I didn’t think was any way that the Patriots could win if they had to do it with their offense against the Ram defense, but they really didn’t have to,” Madden said. “…They came out as a team in introductions, they played as a team. It was defense. It was offense. It was special teams.”
Just like that, the legend of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick was born. Somehow, Brady is still quarterbacking and Belichick is coaching. Now, back to Madden. He turned to Summerall, and did what he always did. He deflected the attention away from himself and toward his partner.
“It’s been a great 21 years!”
Yes, yes it was. Madden and Summerall teamed up, originally with CBS in the early 1980s.
They were calling the action for plenty of great NFL action over the years, from the great San Francisco 49er teams in the 1980s, the Dallas Cowboys’ dynasty of the early 1990s.
Eventually, CBS Sports lost the broadcast rights to FOX Sports, which led to the duo switching networks. Madden later broadcast games briefly with Al Michaels on Sunday Night Football.
Madden coached the Oakland Raiders from 1969-78. He had a winning record every year, and his teams qualified for the postseason in eight of those 10 seasons. He won the Super Bowl after the 1976 season and was also on the losing end of one of the craziest finishes in an NFL playoff game — Franco Harris’ Immaculate Reception in the AFC Divisional playoffs at the conclusion of the 1972 season. While many turn coaching into a pretty lengthy career, Madden’s decade as a head coach went by quickly, but that didn’t mean his career in professional football was over. Not by a long shot. His broadcast career was legendary. That was John Madden. All about football and all about learning new ways to enjoy the game. Sure, when the games got out of hand there was time for discussion about Gatorade baths, food, his fear of flying, and who knows what else.
If it was football, Madden was there for the conversation. He also was there to pitch whatever product needed sold. I can remember the commercials for Ace Hardware. There also was “tough actin’ Tinactin” for athlete’s foot. Oh, and light beer, too. He was probably personally responsible for the increased production of turduckens every Thanksgiving. “It smelled and looked so good,” Madden told the New York Times. “I didn’t have any plates or silverware or anything, and I just started eating it with my hands.” This was during a Saints-Rams telecast in 1997.
Of course, the biggest moneymaker over the years was his Madden video game, which football enthusiasts have been addicted to ever since it first came out. It was what Madden was all about — bringing the game of professional football home for the enjoyment and entertainment of all.
Madden famously didn’t fly, but he didn’t let that stop him from getting around. He’d take the Madden cruiser do wherever the next big game was at. There was always a game to broadcast, somewhere. Whether it was up at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Texas Stadium for another national Cowboys telecast, Madden was there, usually with Summerall, ready to call the action.
-Thanks for reading!
Daniel Winningham is the managing editor of the Republic-Monitor. He can be reached at 573-547-4567, ext. 227 or email


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